Consumer Reports Publishes
A Helmet Article
On the web dated June, 2009
Summary: Consumer Reports tested kids' bike helmets in 2009. They rated only three above average in impact protection: Bell Trigger, Bell Amigo and Giro Me2. None of the tested helmets flunked. They picked the Schwinn Thrasher as a Best Buy even though it rated only good in impact protection. Most of the rating differences were in ventilation. The ratings are available only on the web, not in the magazine.
Consumer Reports has a web page on youth and toddler helmets dated June, 2009. The page rates 12 youth models and three toddler helmets.
Although that is a tiny cross-section of the hundreds of models on the market, it represents the only independent lab test data publicly available, so it is a major event in the helmet field. You must be a Consumer Reports website subscriber to see the ratings on their web page.
Impact Test Results
Three helmets tested Very Good for impact protection: the Bell Trigger, Bell Amigo and Giro Me2. All of the rest tested Good. There were no Excellents. We tend to focus on the impact tests as CU's biggest contribution to consumer information, and our key criterion for helmet choice, but their Best Buy is the Schwinn Thrasher, that scored only Good.
The Bell Trigger and Schwinn Thrasher rated very good. The Uvex Cartoon rated good. All the rest rated only Fair.
Retention Test Results
Most of the tested models rated Excellent in the rolloff tests that show how easily a helmet with its strap well adjusted can be tipped off of the headform. Only the Hot Wheels Rally Racer and Bell Boomerang were one notch down, rated Very Good. In the lab the helmets are adjusted carefully by experts, and there is no test for loosening over time by "strap creep."
CR has a separate page with helmets available in Canada. But they are the same helmets, with NA for the ones not available there. This year there is a Louis Garneau model included.
What We Missed
This article is worth a look if you are researching a new kids helmet, although the number of helmets included was small. There were no Bell True Fit models tested, the only major advance in helmet fitting in the past decade. But testing is expensive, and no single lab, including the US Government, can afford to test every helmet on the market. Our own listing of helmets for this season is much more comprehensive, but has no lab test results for impact performance.
Here is a link to our reviews of previous Consumer Reports articles.